Seychelles is putting in place new restrictions with immediate effect for the next 14 days following critical developments in the COVID-19 situation in the island nation, President Wavel Ramkalawan announced on Tuesday.
In a television and radio broadcast, Ramkalawan said that Seychelles is experiencing community transmission. Consequently, churches, bars, gyms and schools will be closed. Places of employment are asked to take a work-from-home approach. Holiday gatherings are to be with close family only.
"At this present time we have a patient who tested positive in the intensive care unit at the Perseverance hospital in a critical state. We are all praying that the patient recovers," he said.
Two other people tested positive after doing their PCR tests, while six others who tested positive are awaiting confirmation.
Ramkalawan said 69 persons are in a high-risk situation, among them 28 health workers who have been identified as contacts, including specialists who were working with the ICU and in health centres where the patient received medical treatment.
With the heavy pressure on the health services, several restrictions will be in place until the situation stabilises. With immediate effect:
- There are restrictions on all public gatherings.
- All schools from crèche to post-secondary will remain closed
- There will be no religious ceremonies except funerals under the existing guidelines
- Bars, casinos, spas, gyms and cinemas will be closed and this includes leisure activities
- All competitive sports will be done without spectators
- All work places are asked to encourage their employees to work at home
- The airport will stay open to received visitors under the existing conditions
Everyone is being asked during the festive season to gather with close family only
COVID-19 has severely impacted the island nation, but mostly in economic terms by crippling its tourism industry. Before Tuesday's announcement, Seychelles had experienced several dozen COVID-19 cases but no deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
The new social and work restrictions are the first since April 5 when restrictions on the movement of people were reinforced after the 11th positive case of COVID-19 was recorded.
The head of state of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, said that these measures are being taken to "protect the health of our people and try to rebuild our country in this worrying situation."
"I want to reassure our population that the Ministry of Health and other agencies are doing everything they can to bring the situation under control. I again appeal to everyone to take the necessary precautions such as wear masks, keep your distances, wash your hands and avoid gathering in public," said Ramkalawan.
He said that more details will be given by the Public Health Commissioner in a press conference on Wednesday.